Jesus said to the people, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘a shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens Luke 12:54. While it looked like He was commending their power to forecast rightly, He hit them hard unreservedly—without respect for political correctness in verse 55 “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
For Jesus, the important thing that generation should have discerned was the “present time”, season or situation they were in. We in this present generation also need to learn a lesson in this matter of discerning the “present time” and not be deceived into inventing liturgies to suit man’s ever evolving and unstable culture. What exactly did Jesus mean by the phrase “present time” in verse 54 of Luke 12?
The parable of the “fig tree planted in a man’s vineyard” as told by Jesus in Luke 13:6 can help us understand His usage of the phrase “present time”. In this parable, it is said, that the “man came or visited” (which is an indication of present time) later described clearly in the passage as a “three years” visiting time verse 7 and, a “one year” that will culminate to a pleasant or wrathful visitation verse 8 Luke 13:7-8.
The purpose of the vineyard owner’s visitations for three years (present time) was clearly defined. It was to reap fruit from the fig tree verse 7. Hence, what was and still is paramount is the fig tree knowing or discerning its state and cooperating with the Gardener (Holy Spirit). Rightly forecasting “climate change” is of least importance.
In the Gardener’s reply to Christ, a “one year” period was solicited and scheduled verse 8. This one year “present time” is a time of mercy and grace for the fig tree to engage in repenting and cooperating with the Gardener to please the “owner of the vineyard” by bearing fruit. The privilege of admission into the vineyard must be justified.
Now, the question is this: What will our 21st century generation do with this “present time”? What will you and I do with it? What are the youths being taught to do with this “present time”.
The Gardener’s responsibility is to dig and manure the vineyard and not to force the fig tree in the vineyard to yield fruit. Therefore, He reaffirms to the “vineyard owner” to keep up His responsibility relentlessly verse 8. Nevertheless, the Gardener concludes His speech by saying, “… if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down” verse 9. The lack of presumptuousness on the side of the Gardener is striking! Gentle and unassuming is characteristic of the Gardener. The fig tree of the vineyard can’t be passive as modern “Christian revelatory teachers are selling”.
Paul, like the rest of the apostles, recognized the all important work of the Gardener and the response needed. It inspired His admonition to the saints thus, ‘Do not grieve the Spirit but rather cooperate with Him’ Ephesians 4:30. The redemption of saints is nearer than ever before and it is tied to the work of the Gardener. Therefore, any predicting of the future, and analysis of present world events that does not culminate to this one thing—that is, cooperating with the Holy Spirit “in this one year season” is merely being religious, a waste of time and energy or life.
Hence, in Ephesians 5: 15-16, saints are both exhorted and admonished thus; “… be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times”.
On the one hand, it is evil times because the “vineyard owner” is ready to cut down the fig tree if it does not bear fruit and on the other hand, Satan is at his best with deception to discourage the fig tree from cooperating with the vineyard Dresser or Gardener. As a fig tree, check out what comes out from you when you fail to submit to God (cooperate with the Gardener) and restrain or resist the evil one. The Church restrains evil and the evil one victoriously only through the Gardener’s work in and through her Zechariah 4:6. This re-emphasizes the indispensable place of the Gardener in the vineyard.
Therefore, the heavens, world events, earth and the sky that man is so good in predicting are joined together in pleading with those without Christ in this age and to the saints: Yield to the Gardener—that is, choose life and if you have already done so, then, live the abundant life in this age at this “present time” John 10:10. But to disobey Him persistently is choosing death and the wrath of God. What is God’s advice to us in all of this?
His advice is this: Now, (signifying chance for a fresh start) “… choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verse 19-20 of Deuteronomy Chapter 30 (CEB).
This fertile land has a character of flowing with milk and honey! And it has a mystery too—which is this: Its maker and builder is the Architect of the universe, Christ Jesus Himself. The one to who all spirits in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth are subject to. And to whom all glories belong, the Head of the Church of the Living God, Father of all creation. He is speaking about this “present time”. Let all who have ears listen—listen to what the Spirit is saying. Within the period of the “one year” of Christ’s visitation, it can happen that we leave this world into His pleasant or wrathful presence. Therefore, man ought not to boast of tomorrow. Today is the best to bear fruit unto God.
This “present time” is a “one year” (not literal one year) of friendship with the Gardener who leads us into all the mind of Christ and participation in Christ’s suffering—in the face of multi-dimensional battles. It is a great call to perseverance and humbleness. It is a time of friendship with the One who leads us to fruitfulness and resounding victory.